What’s the Deal with the PARCC?

Alyson Healy, Staff Writer

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So, do you know what you want to do when you grow up? Know what college you want to go to? Well, taking the PARCC Test will prepare you for college starting in 3rd grade.

PARCC stands for “Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College Careers”. It’s the “new and improved” standardized test, and according to the state educational director, David Hespe, this test is supposed to replace the previous “outdated” tests. Except for the fact that this is exactly what they said about the NJASK Test and previous state standerdiezed tests. Hespe also said, “They’re just not prepared to do that [college level and carreer work] so we need a comprehensive test to let us know if students are prepared for the next phase of their lives.” I guess that means that 3rd graders who can barely sit still for 5 minutes, and change their minds five different times about what they want to be when they grow up, have to have a “comprehensive test” so that we can prepare them at ages 8 and 9 for college– if they never even want to go to college.

One of the many problems with the test is that it is all computerized; all online. That means that a school district will need to somehow have enough computers (or in my school’s case, Gooogle Chrome Books). And where does all the money for funding come from? The taxpayers of course! The other problem with this is that some schools may not have enough computers or Chrome Books, which would cause them to spread the testing out over several days for the classes, which would mean that there would be know no real learning happening: only “preparation” for the test.

Furtheremore, for any essays or what would normally be “written” answers on tests these answers will have to be typed. But what kids,  in grades 3 through 11  (especially for elementary students) truly know how to type? We’ve never actually had a real typing or keyboarding class everyday at school, consistently. If they’re expecting us to know how to type (starting in at least 3rd grade) by having to take this test, why have they never mandated that, say, all kids starting in 3rd grade, take basic keybaording? How can this test measure students learning if a student can barely type? And might I add that not only do we have to type for this test, but it’s also timed. I guess 3rd graders who can barely type, let alone those in middle and high school, are expected to not only complete this test, but also do so with a high, passing grade, in the amount of time given. No wonder there’s  so much outrage about it.

My other gripe with this test is that the questions make no sense, even to an honor student like myself. Just recently, I had the chance (along with the other enrichment 8th graders) to take the SAT. Not the PSAT, the actual SAT, that highschoolers were taking. I took an SAT prep class in the fall just to prepare for it, and after taking the test, I think I can honestly say that the SAT made more sense (because it based was on logical things like grammer and sentence strucuture) and in a way, was easier than any PARCC questions I’ve heard about or seen). But I suppose that what the education department really wants to do, is make the PARCC test, the SAT’s of elementary, junoior, and senior high, as the SAT’s will apparently be changed in the next few years.

There are so many more grievences that I could stress, like, for example, that we have to take one part of this test in March, the other in May, and apparently 8th graders still have to take the NJASK 8 Science Test.

The fact is that this test has students, parents, and even teachers stressed out. Some parents even want to have their kids “opt out”of the test. But according to David Hespe, this test is both “valuable and necessary”…I guess he doesn’t care that some are complaining that the test is too stressful and lengthy, not to mention taking valuable teaching time away from the class, since we have to spend at least a month or two preping for it.

The interseting part about this, though, is that the company in charge of administering the test, Perason PLC, is “under investigationby the FBI, close to bankruptcy, and the Pearson Foundation (now, currently closed) was “forced to pay over $7 million dollars in fines for unlawfully generating buisness”. This is what a Tom’s River High School South honor student, Jacob Hartmann, testified at the New Jersey State Department of Education in Trenton. Could this be hit-and-run sort of buisness? Creating a test just to get paid for, one they know wouldn’t work or have good end results? Does this give you “confidence,” in the test, knowing that all this test does is maintain the “staus quo”? Making the level the same for those in honors classes and not. Is this fair for all students who may learn differntly, since we’re not all robots?

In a way, it reminds me of The Giver, by Lowis Lowery. A world where everything is “perfect”, differences and being unique are considered wrong, and everything and everyone has been made to be the “same”, and no one feels “true emotions”. It’s a scary thought, if you really think about it.

However, I feel that this test will be more troubling then the ASK Test, and every standerdized test before that.

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